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Opinion

Opinion

Wasted effort

April 13, 2012

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To the editor:

The Kansas Legislature is currently considering a bill that creates a suspicion-less drug-testing program for cash assistance recipients. House Bill 2686 mandates that one-third of individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds submit to urine tests in order to remain eligible for assistance. An almost identical program in Florida made headlines last summer when it was enjoined by a federal judge mere weeks after its initial implementation. The courts ruled a similar program created in Michigan nearly a decade ago unconstitutional, as well.

It’s frustrating that some lawmakers in Kansas continue to assert that this program is needed in order to prevent taxpayer dollars from purchasing drugs. As amply demonstrated by experience in other states, this program will not save taxpayer dollars and will not be successful in identifying drug users. Studies have demonstrated that other states’ programs have had dismally low positive test rates because, in part, those receiving assistance aren’t actually using drugs at a higher rate than the general population.

Are Kansans ready to support a move by their representatives to establish an unconstitutional, unnecessary program that will send more money down the drain?

Comments

Dan Eyler 2 years ago

Drug testing and mandatory birth control sounds like a very good idea. If my tax dollars are paying to keep you in housing, and food, you can't buy drugs with it and you cannot have any more children. Get off welfare then you can go buy your drugs and have more kids.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 2 years ago

I would bet one of the reasons for the low numbers is those who choose that lifestyle would leave the state to avoid loosing assistance due to testing. So, unless all states do it, it is like spraying for roaches in a rental house, you just disperse them to your neighbors house until it is safe to return.

You should take those on the public dole and group the kids into 10's or 12's. Demand that two of the moms watch the kids for their money, and the rest of the moms go get a job. The dads should be at the bus stop and taken to public parks and the such so they can earn their keep also. Programs like this would go a very long way in curbing the huge amounts of negative cash flow the taxpayers enjoy due to the entitlement programs that are strangeling the states.

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Ragingbear 2 years ago

Did you know that there are several medications that will produce false positives for many commonly abused drugs? Several psychiatric medications will produce a positive for benzo's. ADD/ADHD medications produce a positive for amphetamine use, there are about 15 medications that are prescribed that can produce a positive for marijuana, and I'm not talking about marijuana derivatives. These are prescribed every day for many reasons legitimately. Due to current laws, they can't make you stop taking those medications and come back for a follow up analysis. If you are taking any of them and denied employment or services because of these false positives, you can sue them for enough money to retire. This is a flaw in the system.

Alcohol, which is a commonly abused drug only remains in the system for a few hours. LSD and a few other more commonly used drugs will flush out in a few days. Detox kits are widely available to help you pass a drug test. Those are the people that buy such things. The ones that were offered a valium when their father died or smoked a joint at a family get together will be singled out, while the true heavy abusers are going to be the ones that get through.

Also, we aren't talking about $10 test here. The ones they propose can cost up to $100 a piece. That is a lot of money that could be used elsewhere. The amount saved would only be a fraction of the amount that it cost.

If you really want proper social reform, you need to start at a key problem with the system. I know this because of a disability I have. If I get a job, it may affect my food, income and other benefits. How will it affect them? It's hard to say. The answer you will always get is "We will have to run it through the system to find out.".Which means that you won't find out until after it is done. When you are barely scraping by with necessities and fear that your benefits for your family will decrease, it can put you off on getting work. The system does not figure in travel expenses, wardrobe requirements (like mandatory uniforms you have to buy),or even taxes. That's right, they measure gross income.

Sometimes you can figure things out to a certain extent. I remember that I once figured out that if my income was between $350 and $425 dollars a month, that the total amount of cash/benefits that my household would have would actually decrease. Meaning that my work would result in my losing money. That wasn't even figuring in the additional expenses associated with travel and such. Fix this, and don't do the entire "looming sword of doom" thing for those who want to get out of the system and you will see many people emerge and give it a try. Those who try sometimes fail, but they sometimes succeed. Those who do not try never fail, but they never succeed either.

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years ago

People on the "dole" shouldn't be allowed to vote either .

Maybe a "designation" tattoo or a tag can be used to differentiate voters.

If that's too NAZI like and obvious. Try Photo ID's with people "smiling" can vote. People "frowning" cannot.

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grimpeur 2 years ago

I wonder how poor you have to be before you're subject to testing. If we're going to drug-test people who receive handouts, let's start with the biggest handouts.

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its_just_math 2 years ago

It's not just the drugs. I've been behind a food stamp recipient at the grocery store. Ever see what THEY feed their kids? I buy fresh meat and veggies, jasmine rice, potatoes, pastas, mixes, frozen veggies, tomato sauces etc etc and yes, some "junk food" .... but mostly stuff to actually prepare a MEAL. These folks that I've seen buy mostly empty calorie crapola food and overpriced "boxed" foods. That's a shame.

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1029 2 years ago

There should be a database of all TANF recipients. Photo, fingerprints, aliases, tattoos, last know address, etc. When too many people are running wild in the streets with unlimited money to buy drugs neighborhoods deteriorate, crime rises, property values decline, and pretty soon we'd be just like Topeka.

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Jon Jambor 2 years ago

If we're going to give handouts, there shouldn't be ANY strings attached. Let the recipient do what ever the heck they want with the money. The more obscene, the better. Maybe after a few heinous abuses, people would wake up to the fact that these entitlements are stupid, pointless, and downright harmful.

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Richard Heckler 2 years ago

More and more and more and more bigger government republican legislation.

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